This Date In Royals History–1977 Edition: May 5

The younger brother bested the older brother this time, as George Brett and the Royals won a back-and-forth game, 6-5, over Ken Brett and the Chicago White Sox on a Thursday night at Royals Stadium.

George went 2-4 with a pair of doubles against his older brother. And it was George’s double in the sixth inning that gave the Royals their eventual winning run and finished Ken’s outing.

“I looked away,” George said of the moment when White Sox manager Bob Lemon reached the mound to remove Ken from the game. “I couldn’t watch”

“I look in the paper every morning to see how he’s done,” Ken said. “But I guess I can skip tomorrow’s paper because I already know.”

Neither Ken Brett nor Royals starter Paul Splittorff fared especially well in this one. Brett allowed 10 hits in 5 ⅔ innings, while Splittorff lasted just three 3 ⅔ innings after surrendering five hits and four walks.

The teams traded runs in the first inning, with Chicago scoring on an Alan Bannister single, Jorge Orta walk, and two fly balls, the second one from Eric Soderholm. Amos Otis answered in the bottom half of the inning with an inside-the-park home run.

Otis gave the Royals the lead in the third, as he singled to drive in Hal McRae, who had tripled with one out. But Chicago scored two runs in the top of the fourth to get back on top. Bannister drove in one with a single, and the lead run scored when Splittorff made a throwing error on Orta’s grounder back to the mound. Reliever Doug Bird had to come in and get the last out of the inning.

The White Sox lead didn’t last long, as Al Cowens homered leading off the bottom of the fourth. And again Chicago answered, with Soderholm starting the fifth with a double and advancing home on two fly balls. Once again, Kansas City answered with a run. Brett doubled with one out in the home half of the fifth, then stole third and scored on a McRae single.

Bird kept the White Sox off the scoreboard in the sixth, although he was helped by left fielder Joe Zdeb, who threw out Jack Brohamer at home for the second out of the inning. 

Now the Royals had a chance at the lead, and they took advantage. Zdeb singled with one out, and Freddie Patek reached on an error. Buck Martinez singled for a 5-4 lead, and Brett’s double with two outs scored Patek for a 6-4 lead.

Chicago got one run back in the seventh, as Richie Zisk and Soderholm started the inning with doubles, although Zisk stopped at third for some reason. He did score on a sacrifice fly from Jim Spencer, but Bird got the second out of the inning and reliever Tom Hall struck out Lamar Johnson to end the threat.

Hall did allow a one-out walk in the eighth, but Mark Littell retired the last five hitters in order to record the save, his fourth of the season.

Despite the win, manager Whitey Herzog had some harsh words for his team after the game. “To put it very bluntly and be as truthful as I can, we’ve been playing some bad baseball,” the skipper said. “We haven’t been giving ourselves very many chances to win ballgames.”

Herzog’s concern was mostly around baserunning; the Royals had two runners picked off in the game and that had also happened in a couple of other games.

“That’s four times this year we’ve had guys picked off on hit and run plays. I think we had only one all last year. We have to start playing with a little more concentration. We’re just not giving ourselves a fair chance.”

The win gave the Royals a 14-10 mark on the season and put them in second place in the AL West, a half-game behind Minnesota.

Box score and play-by-play:
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA197705050.shtml

Today’s birthdays: Gary Christenson (1953), Dave Gumpert (1958)

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